Homeland @ Dundas Street Gallery: explore the Outer Hebrides and the wider world through the art of travel by Donald Libby and Eilidh Jamieson.
The Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh is a marvellous space for an eclectic range of pop up art exhibitions. This week there’s a superb collection of hand crafted, sculptured ‘seascapes’ displayed on towers of white boxes complemented by colourful, decorative maps around the walls.
Donald Libby and Eilidh Jamieson both live in Stornoway and their contrasting artwork is inspired by their homeland, the Isle of Lewis. Eilidh was initially due to be exhibiting with another artist, and so it was by chance she was introduced to Donald who agreed to collaborate on this joint showcase.
‘I find that being born and brought up on an Island shapes you as an individual and as an artist – surrounded by the sea, rugged coastlines and beautiful beaches is where I find my inspiration’.
His art materials are sourced from beachcombing walks to find salvaged driftwood, water bottles, rusty nails, fishing nets and mooring buoys, washed up by the waves on to the sand. Working in his Studio Shed, Libby has such a magical imagination to transform these found treasures into unique, hand crafted sculptures. Each specific shapely piece of timber, metal, glass and plastic is selected to create such realistic miniature cottages perched on a rocky seashore with cute wee dinghies, complete with miniature oars.
The detail is exquisite with washing lines in the garden, twig ‘trees,’ and the creative use of salvaged planks of wood, perhaps from an old boat with peeling red and blue paint, as in Sailors Warning.
These 3D seascapes capture the atmosphere of living on a Hebridean island – you can almost catch a whiff of the fresh sea breeze around harbour walls and sandy beach. In Approaching Shower, see the pounding waves crashing against the rocky cliff, with the lighthouse keeping sailors safe at sea.
Libby doesn’t identify exactly the location of each particular scene although a few scenes depicting tall, slender stacks are reminiscent of St. Kilda, such as Gannet Rock.
‘Having enjoyed travelling and living abroad made me realise what a privilege it was to be born on the stunning beauty of the Outer Hebrides. It evoked the desire to create art which would inspire nostalgia and a sense of Home’. Eilidh Jamieson:
In 2013, Eilidh was just 19 years old and working on the far side of the world, Mount Isa in the Australian desert and missed her home on the Isle of Lewis. She came across an online shop which could emboss an image of one’s own country onto the cover of a travel journal. This began her love affair with Maps.
At the gallery you can see a collection of her delicately designed paintings and prints, an enchanting world atlas of islands and countries from the Isle of Lewis to Australia, Asia to South Africa, Canada and the Caribbean.
The Outer Hebrides are named after the Norse word, Harbredey, loosely translated as “Isles at the edge of the Sea.” A map of this archipelago depicts the 130 miles of wild, rugged, undulating coastline, around cliff tops and white sand beaches. It is not just the geography and location of the islands which Eilidh is trying to capture but the cultural heritage of her homeland, renowned for Harris tweed and the ancient Standing Stones at Callanais.
These unique hand-painted watercolours, decorated with colourful inks and pinpointed specific places on the map sprinkled with flecks of copper, silver or gold for a glittering piece of artwork. The curving coastline of islands, the curving shapes of borders and boundaries evoke memories of family holidays and romantic journeys of discovery around the world.
With little opportunity to jet off over the past couple of years, we can still appreciate memories of journeys past, and these maps offer an original illustration of favourite places through Eilidh’s innovative art of travel.
We study maps to be inspired and to daydream of planning a bucket list of where to go on our next wanderlust adventure.
Through her company, EJayDesign, she accepts commissions for personalised bespoke maps with the addition of your own text and title. Printed on giclèe fine art paper or unstretched canvas using pigment inks, they are completed by hand with sparkling of acrylic gold. These would be perfect birthday, wedding and anniversary gifts for family and friends.
The planning, organisation and travel to set up this exhibition has been a huge effort, having to drive a truck, by road and ferry from Stornoway, with an extensive range of artwork to Edinburgh. Do take a visit if you can to the Dundas Street Gallery this week to see Eilidh and Donald’s artwork – prices are very reasonable for these finely crafted maps, seascape models and also useful key holders – perfect presents too.
This is a creative debut collaboration between two distinctive artists who share a dramatic imagination and evocative sense of place. I do hope this review will encourage a gallery on the Isle of Lewis to offer the two artists the space to show off their inspiring artwork in their own Homeland.
Dundas Street Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh
Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th July 2022